Category Archives: Body image

A War on Wombs

Over the next few weeks I will be sharing the Bonus chapter that never made it into the new version of my Amazon #1 bestseller in menstruation, Moon Time: harness the ever-changing energy of your menstrual cycle.

Read part one: Welcome to your Womb…

CoverMoonTime

Every year, according to Dr Eve Agee, in the Uterine Health Companion, over 600,000 hysterectomies take place in the United States.

Whilst 10% of hysterectomies are for cancer, the remaining 90% are for benign conditions such as fibroids and endometriosis. Hysterectomy is the second most common surgery after caesarean sections. Both major surgeries. Both on the very same part of the body: the womb.

The Western medical model, it seems, has declared war on the womb, surgically correcting and interfering with it, in order to save women from their own organs.

This is not a judgement on women who have had hysterectomies. But a big question mark over the system which deems these operations necessary. And a culture which makes women’s bodies suffer to the degree that half of the population need an integral part of their bodies removed with such regularity.

In many cases these surgeries are life-saving for women – and for the babies they are carrying.

But what is going wrong?

Mammals have had wombs for hundreds of thousands of years. Women have given birth for this time. They have menstruated for this time. Wombs are not a new thing.

And yet, we seem to be unable to live with them now. What is going wrong? If one in three women is now unable to give birth without surgical assistance. If 70% of women have fibroids. Something is out of balance. Inside. And outside.

Think for a minute: what does this mean for women?

The womb is intimately connected to fertility, to creativity, to sexual pleasure. The womb is a major hormone producer, and its structure key to a woman’s posture, balance and the support of her other organs.

Firstly we ignore our wombs, breasts and genital health until our bodies are screaming at us, and our symptoms are big. Either through numbness, or embarrassment, or lack of awareness. We tend not to prioritise our feminine health. We lack the culture of being able to talk with ease and openness about our bodies.

When we do approach health care providers, the care we receive often does not heal or resolve the issue, simply address the major symptoms. Treatment is often painful, invasive and traumatic, leading to further issues. It is usually delivered in a way that does not understand or value the holistic nature of the womb and its cycles. Or our symptoms are ignored or downplayed as “women’s problems” or psychosomatic.

Without wombs, human life on this planet cannot continue.

That is the biggest picture.

But the smaller picture is this – each woman who is in pain, who is suffering each month, is a woman whose energy is not fully there for herself, for her loved ones, for her work that she gives the world.

Our health and fertility is important – not only to us, but to our families, communities and even our economy.

We live in a culture that is dictated by sun-time. By man-made weeks and months. In which we are expected to work 9-5 for five days a week, and be the same every day. But as women, we are powered by something different. We live by moon time: the 29 day cycle of the moon, which dictates the length of our menstrual cycles.

Just like the constantly changing phases of the moon, the energy in our cycles is always changing, shifting us through different moods, capabilities and physical issues. We are very different creatures at each part of our cycle… and at each part of our fertility process: menstrual, pregnant, breastfeeding, menopausal. And yet our world, especially the world of work, has been set up by men, whose bodies are not cyclical in the same way as women’s. Women have entered this man’s world, and have been expected to prove themselves worthy to be part of it. Not weak. Not unreliable.  And so we have learned to shut down our sensitivity, our awareness of our cycling selves. In exchange for acceptance, belonging or survival.

Look Out for Part Three next week…

Advertisements

For My Teenage Daughter

When my daughter comes back from school and tells me everyone is calling her a drama queen because she stands up for her right to be treated with respect, I cringe and die a little inside.

When she slams her bedroom door and I go in to listen and comfort her and she tells me boys wonder how much she costs in bed, I cringe and die a little inside.

When she is angry at the injustice of being a woman even in this day and age because she feels she isn’t valued as much as boys, I cringe and die a little inside.

When she is told to calm down, sit pretty, be quiet, behave because she’s a girl, I cringe and die a little inside.

BUT when my beautiful daughter stands up to the ones who bring her down because of jealousy and hate and she is able to keep going and keep reaching higher and higher, I smile and I shine from the inside.

And when my shy daughter asks me for her own Menarche Ceremony in order to bless and acknowledge her becoming a woman, I smile and I shine from the inside.

And when my strong daughter shows amazing empathy for causes that are dear to her heart and she isn’t afraid to stand up for what she believes in, I smile and I shine from the inside.

And when my proud daughter dresses as she likes and wears what she wants and isn’t influenced by others and refuses to conform, I laugh with glee and tell her she can, most definitely, without a doubt, do what SHE wants!

How I wish I could take away the pain of growing up, the occasional anguish of being a girl. How I wish I could carry you far, far away from the negative experiences of growing up. I sometimes dream of a meadow, of us laying in the flowers and the scented swaying grasses, just you and I, safe, sheltered, protected from the harshness of this life. I cannot do such things, and so I rest in the comfort that I, my dear daughter, I have taught you well.

This life will bring you immense joy, and yes, sometimes immense pain, but I know that you can and will remember. Remember to look within, remember to search deep down for your truth, remember, dear daughter, that you come from a long long line of women, and we call you One of Us. You, my dear one, are WOMAN, and you are precious beyond words.”

10682113_10154618189730096_2124383018_nGenevieve Losier is a stay at home mama of three who has also been working closely with women and girls in the last 10 years, having successfully built her brand of organic designer cloth pads and advocating the whys of choosing cloth for both their babies and themselves.  She also is extremely passionate about herbalism, connecting to women through the Red Tent, and advocating women’s rights.  Her own connection to our beautiful earth and the nature that surrounds her pushes her forward with intent.  Genevieve is building her knowledge of healing herbs and is excited about offering wild harvested and healing products to others so they too can make a conscious choice on what they put on and in their bodies.  Her goal is to promote and help heal women as well as our Mother Earth with healing medicines, and supporting other women in their quest for a better Earth.  You can find her at;

www.facebook.com/theclothcanoe

theclothcanoe@gmail.com

 

Cunt Love

 

Today’s guest post from Colette aka Lady Cunt Love is powerful stuff…

To really love your cunt is to take back what belongs to you.

It is to reconcile with the patriarchal bullshit we have had to put up with for the last thousand years and gain back all the wisdom that we had in a time when our cunts were revered with love and awe. It is to accept that the fear that men felt of our power and capacity for sexual pleasure and to also see that somewhere along the line, we have internalised that fear.

To reclaim the word ‘cunt’ and say with a smile on your lips is so fucking liberating. It is to strip yourself of the chastity belts and straight jackets once and for all.

It’s time for us to move on to a new place.

A place where we are no longer silent or shamed. A place where we see the beauty in ourselves and others.

It is time for us to stop comparing and competing with each other as women but to join together in a circle of sisters. It’s so much easier and liberating this way. It is the only way.

I learned all of this through talking to people on the streets. I decided one day that I had enough of the secrecy and silence. So I created an alter ego for myself named Lady Cunt Love. I wore a silk cunt headpiece on my head and a velvet, glittery cunt around my waist. I had a clipboard and a lots of handrawn cunts and colouring pencils. I had my two friends with me – Queen Clit and The Cuntess. We approached people on the street and in pubs and cafes and clubs. We learned so much about how people view the world, cunts, cocks, sex, porn, gender and language.

cuntlove

I then began to share my story in the form of a poetry collection called ‘The Healing Journey of my Cunt’. We created Cuntcraft, a craft where we sit in circle and use velvet, satin, silk, glitter to create our own beautifully crafted cunts. I facilitate these circles and perform and exhibit from my studio in Brighton, The Cuntquarters and all over the UK and Ireland.

I have witnessed so many beautiful moments where a sweet kind of magic takes over and women find the courage to share their stories with me. Sad stories are told about painful periods, rape, traumatic abortions, miscarriage, abuse and shame (lots of shame). Liberating stories are told too – about sexual pleasure, joyous births and pregnancies, premenstrual insights and happy bleeds. Once the stories are expressed, they are out in the world and can take on a new meaning. They are released and we can come to a place of love, forgiveness and acceptance.

cunt

I have now decided it is time to take this even further and am inviting women to join me on a four week online Cunt Loving Quest beginning on the 1st April. This is to give women the opportunity to explore their relationships with the cunts in the safety and comfort of their own homes.

You can see a video of me describing the course here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGEyvx6dYrY and join the quest on my website here. http://cherishthecunt.com/2014/03/06/introducing-the-28-day-cunt-loving-quest

Must Read Woman-Craft Books of 2013

I regularly get emails from women asking for book recommendations. So here, hopefully just in time for last minute Christmas pressies, are my pick of the best women’s books that I have read this year.

Sweetening the Pill: or How We Got Hooked on Hormonal Birth Control

This is a superbly researched and written examination of the Pill, how it is marketed, why we swallow it and what it does to us.

“The pill is intrinsic to Western, patriarchal, capitalist culture as it is to the lives of many millions of women.” This line shook me hard. It was a terrifying truth, but one that I had never considered before. In order to be the stable, efficient, fully productive economic units of society that our culture requires, women need to take the Pill!

Over the course of the book she unpacks this statement. Women who take the Pill tend to feel numb and have less emotional response to their surroundings, both ups and downs. So women who are less passionate in all senses. Less angry, less outraged, less excited about whom they love, and have a lower libido. Women walk around who cannot get pregnant, who can have sex whenever, wherever without thought or repercussions – the stereotypical male fantasy of a living sex doll.

And women pay for this dubious privilege, both through their prescriptions, (which whilst free in the UK, it is paid for elsewhere.) but also with their health. Healthy women take a powerful medication daily for years, and often decades. A medication which UN polls has shown would be unpalatable for men to take. And it is a medication which promises so much – not just freedom from the constant fear of pregnancy, but also clear skin, bigger boobs, no PMT, lighter bleeding, less cramps, and with some, weight loss… There are few young women who wouldn’t want all that it promises: the ability to transform from a flawed human woman into superwoman.

For me this and The Pill: Are you sure it’s for you? by Alexandra Pope should be required reading of all girls on their 16th birthday.

a body Body of Wisdom – I just took delivery of this last night and I have read the first few pages and WOW! it is the the book of women’s wisdom I have been yearning for every moon time… I am SO excited about reading it. It explores nine hidden spiritual powers within women’s bodies which have been overlooked by patriarchal spiritual systems. Let me share a quote with you… “The powers described in this book are natural to women. They are integrated into our bodies and energy systems, and coordinated with our hearts and minds both…They are not how most women actually live, as most of us have curtailed what is natural in order to survive or thrive in a patriarchal society. But because they are natural they are always with us, like an invitation that is never withdrawn.”

Alchemy for Women: Personal Transformation Through Dreams and the Female Cycle has been my book of the year. I have learned so much about how not only my, but also my partner’s dreams are affected by my cycle… as well as so many other blood mysteries which no one speaks of. This is a follow-on title from the same authors as the classic book The Wise Wound: Menstruation and Everywoman – and thought it is much smaller, but equally as valuable, it never really established the same reputation. It is a funny mix of the scientific and esoteric written in quite a bitty way – almost like a notebook of discoveries many of which have yet to be fleshed out. It is influencing my ideas for my next book and comes highly recommended.

978-1468056716-frontcover

And of course if you’re wanting to learn more about your cycles may I point you in the direction of my on book on the subject – Moon Time: A Guide to Celebrating your Menstrual Cycle – which hundreds of women around the world have described as life changing.

 

I also gained a number of really interesting insights from Wild Feminine: Finding Power, Spirit & Joy in the Female Body (don’t you just LOVE the cover!) I found the exercises in it a little repetitive (I have a short attention span!) and it’s a long book – but if you’re looking for a book to help you get in touch with your female body and especially the pelvic bowl, Tami Lynn Kent is a loving insightful guide.

 

 

My Mother, Myself is a classic, written in the 70s, before it was even acknowledged how much power on a girl’s psyche her mother has. It is a book that I have bought for myself three times, but never gotten past the second chapter. The same happened again… so I skipped a few and got great insight from it. In truth I’m not mad about her writing style, and it feels a little dated as she is talking about the previous generation of mothers and daughters. But ouch her insights cut like a knife. She says what is now a classic took a while before really taking off, as women admitted to throwing it across the room or hiding it in cupboards before taking it out and finishing it, then recommending it to their friends, or buying a copy for their mother. So I guess I’m not alone!

a secret

I have just ordered her other classic My Secret Garden: Women’s Sexual Fantasies which arrived last night and is an eye-opener – it both documents hundreds of women’s sexual fantasies as well as reflecting on the how and why of female sexual fantasy in our patriarchal culture!

a cunt

Whilst we’re on the topic, lets talk Cunt: A Declaration of Independence which I discovered when I was invited to a Facebook group of the same name – well actually it’s called “That book with a daisy on it” because Facebook don’t allow the word cunt in a positive context. Only for misogynists. Anyway. It is a feisty book which explores women, their bodies, their sexuality and independence with sassyness, verve and packs a punch.

Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything. For god here read whatever you see god as… but the title would have put me off buying it myself. Don’t let it! It is basically all about mindfulness and eating, written with great compassion and humor.

a dance

The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman’s Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine is another book I avoided for years because of the title – not being into either the Christian tradition or the Sacred Feminine. Really it is a powerful book about a woman’s journey into herself, breaking away from what she should believe and feel and discovering her own truth. It has become one of my all time favourite books, which I know I shall come back to again and again.

art birthThe Art of Birth: Empower Yourself for Conception, Pregnancy and Birth  offers a radical new approach to conception, pregnancy and birth using expressive art for self-development. It is a beautifully illustrated book which will also inspire women who are yearning to express their sense of being a woman through art. Packed full of art exercises, relaxation, positive affirmations, inner work, emotional support and pleasure, where the dream of a natural, empowered journey to motherhood and a positive birth experience can become a new reality.

Leonie Dawson‘s 2014 Create Your Amazing Year in Life and Business Workbook has changed how I live my life and do business over the past three years that I have used it! It is powerful transformational life and business stuff carefully presented in a non-threatening, feminine way with girly pictures and gorgeous colours which make me feel so happy and safe whilst I’m doing the big work inside!

I get the wonderful printable PDF version free on her Life and Business Academy (you can buy the Life and Business versions individually for $9.95 here which is what I did last year). BUT I wanted a lovely bound copy to hold in my hands. And this year for the first year you can buy a printed copy of both versions together from Amazon. I ripped mine open last night and started the life planner the moment the kids were asleep… and then first thing at work this morning I did some of the business part. I LOVE this book. I’ve spent the morning taking stock of the mammoth year of dreams that has been 2013 and looking forward to an even more glorious year next year – oh the things I have in store already!!

Obviously The Rainbow Way has been the book I have spent most time with in every way this year. I turn to it myself when I am feeling creatively overwhelmed, burned out or in need of reassurance. There is a lot of woman craft in it – a focus on the womb and its connection to women’s creativity, our menstrual cycle and how it affects creativity, lots about women’s circles in supporting creativity and lots of self care guidance. (I am so honored that Leonie named it one of her top 20 books for 2013!) I was SO excited to see that it is number 10 on Amazon.co.uk’s most wished for book in the Motherhood genre at the time of writing!

For girls

Blueberry Girl A dear friend gave this very special book to Ash for her third birthday and it is SO beautifully written and illustrated. It is a lovely non- religious blessing of power and strength for a girl. Watch the beautiful animated reading of the book here.

Reaching for the Moon was my first book release of the year, and is, of my three self-published books, the quickest seller. It seems to really resonate with mothers and daughters and is spreading like wild fire. My 5 1/2 year old begged to be able to read one of my books, brandishing this one in her little hands, knowing that it was for girls, but I have put her off for a couple more years! I was so honored to hear that it is being taught in a local school and have been invited in to talk to the girls on the topic.

And in brief, other exciting looking new releases still on my Kindle which I have only had a chance to read a few pages of, but have enjoyed thus far include:

Conversations with EVE: Women’s TRUE power – where it came from, how we lost it, how we can get it back!

Conversations with EVE (Every Vagina on Earth) is an eye-opening, inspiring, and motivating book. It shares a fascinating account of how the “Myth of Male Superiority” took away EVE’s rights and freedoms.

Menopause: a Natural and Spiritual Journey

This book is personal journey into the time of menopause looking at it from a spiritual point of view first and how spirituality can help with physical, mental and emotional symptoms. It seeks to show it as a natural part of life.

Ripening Time: Inside Stories for Aging with Grace

Sherry Ruth Anderson, the bestselling author of The Feminine Face of God presents a new perspective on aging. She guides us beyond our culture’s mind traps and shows how growing into old age can be a fruition, the genuine grace and gift of human ripening.

The Good Mother Myth: Redefining Motherhood to Fit Reality dismantles the notion of what it means to be a “good mother.” This collection of essays takes a realistic look at motherhood and provides a platform for real voices and raw stories, each adding to the narrative of motherhood we don’t tend to see in the headlines or on the news.

Spiritual Pregnancy: Nine Months of Spiritual Transformation Before You Give Birth (out Jan 2014) is a really tender, insightful book about pregnancy especially the spiritual aspects, and is written by a husband and wife team of doctors!

What have you read and loved this year?

The Power of Breasts

Art Lucy H Pearce -http://lucy-h-pearce.artistwebsites.com

Few would deny the power of breasts. They are magnetic. Hypnotic. Fascinating.

So much so that their power has become taboo. They are biologically “secondary sexual features”. But their sexual aspect has supplanted their primary function. They are mammary glands. For nurturing young. They are what connects us to all other mammals. But our culture has forgotten this, and has put them into the “erotic” bracket, and kept for TITillation of men. Their superficial appearance is all that is valued: large, pert, neat nippled breasts.

But breasts are so much more than this.

When we talk of nurturing, the first thing we think of is their milk. And this is truly incredible stuff. Over the years, the more I have learnt about it, the more I have been purely stunned by the intricate miraculousness of this precious fluid. Breast milk, so I have read, changes composition according not only to the age and nutritional needs of the baby, but in order to protect them from infection. Every time a mother kisses her baby, she ingests the pathogens on their skin and creates antibodies which are then fed to the baby through her milk.

I breastfed all three of my children for around two years each. I am so glad I did. But many mothers can’t, or don’t. What I want to talk about is the invisible aspect that is rarely talked about that every mother, whether she breastfeeds or not can give with her breasts: her feminine, nurturing energy.

Think for a second of when you hugged your mother as a child, or when your child hugs you… where is the head? That’s right, laying on the chest, on the breasts. Soothing. comforting, transmitting love. It is intangible, but no less real. This is how mothers transmit the nurturing, loving energy to their children even when they are not breastfeeding, but when we breast feed this streaming of energy is even more direct from mother to child, and sustained for greater lengths of time than a hug.

I first read about the energy properties of breasts in Dr Christiane Northrup’s life changing book, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, where she talked powerfully about energy depletion in the breasts and how this can lead to infections and abscesses, when the nursing mother is giving too much and becomes exhausted.

I have also read about the energetic properites of them in Tantric Orgasm for Women, Where author talks of the breasts as a woman’s positive energetic pole, which needs to be approached and awakened first, before genital contact is made. In The Art of Sexual Ecstasy there is an incredible picture of a man sucking his partner’s breast, with a thought bubble, and in it you see him remembering the feeling of suckling at his mother’s breast. His eyes are rolled back, in the same way a milk drunk baby looks, in sheer ecstacy, feeling deep peace and pleasure in their own body and profound connection to the beloved. This is the power of the breast.

Many who have not breastfed worry about the mixing of feelings and emotions between the eroticism of the sexual breast and the nurturing aspect of the mammary gland. Most women report that the physical sensations of breastfeeding are completely different to any sort of sexual interaction, and that if the sexual feelings do emerge, which can happen with a child who is weaning and gone a few days without feeding, that it feels odd and uncomfortable. But the feelings of pleasure and closeness for mother and child are similar to a post orgasmic haze as the act of nursing produces the same hormone: oxytocin, which produces feelings of bliss, bondedness, deep connection and relaxation.

But there is something more to the energetic and nurturing aspect of the breast – something to do with this energy flow which I have experienced many times. When each of my children weaned for a few weeks, to a couple of years with each different child, when they were tired or upset, they would choose to come and put their head, or their hand, on my breast. At first it would have to be on the naked breast. There was some sort of soothing which they got from its energy alone, that was separate from the sucking sensation and the milk itself with which they previously comforted themselves.

And it was not just my breastfed babies who would associate my breasts with nurture. A neighbor’s 3 year old son, who had not been breastfed, fell on the road outside my house, and was very shaken and upset. I picked the sobbing child up to carry him down to his house, the first time I had ever held him, and the first thing he did, was to put his hand gently onto my breast and kept it there, as his sobs subsided, all the way to his house.

And it is not even just humans. One day we found a tiny abandoned kitten in the hedge, and carrying it back home (I was still nursing at the time), it wriggled and nuzzled its way in under my cardigan, nuzzling and licking at my breasts, looking for milk and comfort.

This energy, its pull, its draw for both nurturing and sexual terms fascinates me. One of the most distinctive thing about my paintings is the nipples with the spirals on that emerge so often: a making visible though art, of what lies invisible.

Many of us are unaware of this energy spiral. We have learnt to shut off our feelings to our breasts. But whether we are breastfeeding or not, being aware of this aliveness in our breasts, the energy spirals is key to our feminine health and to healthy, loving, connected relationships. Bringing our attention to them throughout the day and especially when you are hugging people, and before and during intercourse is a key way to be sure that we are in our bodies, giving freely of our energy, not depleting ourselves, nurturing and connecting with love. It is also vital to receive love in through the breasts and heart chakra through hugs and open communication, through keeping our bodies warm, through rest and relaxation, and through massage and loving touch.

Your breasts are miraculous, not for what they look like, but for what they are and do. Take care of them.

This post is part of the Irish Parenting Bloggers BlogMarch to support Breastfeeding Week. For an introduction to the March, and a list of the other participants please visit
Mama.ie

The Hypocrisy of Images

I have just been “cleansing” my Pinterest account from illicit images at their request – “it looks like the pin may have had nudity on it.” Pinterest prohibits content that is “is sexually explicit or contains nudity, partial nudity or pornography…We don’t allow nudity—photos that show breasts, buttocks or genitalia on Pinterest.”

The threats are real – the closing of your account if you do not comply. I understand their reasoning – I have come across some of the most horrible porn on Pinterest which has no right being there.So now we know that I’m not advocating Porntrest… let me puzzle something out with you.

I’ve been trying to figure out what I am “allowed” to keep on my boards like the Goddess,  Mother Love and The Happy Womb boards… so for example genitals are not allowed – but how about cupcakes made to look like genitals?

Vagina Cupcakes - Multiracial and anatomically correct. Perfect snacks for afterwards...

So am I allowed this? It LOOKS like a yoni… but it’s not, it’s an aerial photograph of the Earth!

Great Mother's Sacred Yoni

It’s not to do with being “sexually alluring”, because that happens everywhere with clothes on, that is the norm in our twisted society. Women looking sexual, erotic  to sell everything from shower gel to cars. I have already dumped some beautiful goddess woman images before I thought to share them with you here, which because they were bare-breasted, though not in the least “erotic” would come under the ban.

So  went for a trawl through Google to find some images… the sort which would be doing the rounds, totally above board, on the likes of Pinterest. There are LOTS of women in figure revealing dresses, underwear and swim wear on the fashion pages…

This would be allowed, because she’s wearing a bra to cover her (evil) breast flesh and nipple. So even though we can see the OUTLINE of her breast shape, and the COLOUR of the fabric is the same as her skin… I’m guessing it’s OK…So when they say no breasts… what I think they mean is no nipples…

Oh, sorry, female nipples...I think we’ve been here before! So this is OK, because he has a penis. (Which we are not allowed to see).

But this would not be OK…

Or this I think…

Everybody came out of the body of a woman, and that should not be forgotten, or be frightening'  -By Nan Goldin

Because they don’t have a penis. Now the reality is I don’t think ANYONE, male, female, young or old would find these images offensive or sexual. They are simply the human body doing its thing (I guess you could argue sex is too, but usually those images are there to titillate and arouse and are, therefore, “adult”, which is fair enough.)

But – it depends on your medium, because this is OK

Because it’s sculpture. Not REAL flesh. It’s by Rodin. So it’s ART people.

And this…

is just fine too I think. Because it’s a painting… (by a man…)

So it’s just real women’s bodies that are offensive?

Ah, OK! We’re back to that basic argument of women’s flesh is bad methinks! In the digital age, nothing it seems has changed.

Wide open – and witnessed

As little girls we are told to keep our legs together. For a woman, “she spreads her legs for anyone” is an insult of the highest order. The power of the wide open vulva is deeply threatening to the very fabric of civilisation.

My four-year-old daughter loves to show us her vulva. Spreading it wide. “Your yoni’s smiling and talking to us!” I say. So proud that she’s proud and comfortable in her body. Her seven-year-old brother says “yueuch, that’s disgusting!”

And that’s pretty much how it continues. We learn to feel shame for this part of ourselves. To shut it away, not show it off. Whereas boys take great pride in pulling their penises out in public and drawing them on schoolbooks and road signs.

Wide open. It is a feeling of vulnerability. And power. Both together. Flashing our genital essence to the world. Look, this is what I am. This is what I can do.

For most women the first time they experience being wide open – and witnessed – is in the process of birth. At this time there is no room for prudity, shame or secrecy. Suddenly this hidden recess, deep, dark and private, stretched wide open to become a portal between two worlds. As a woman’s whole yoni opens so do her eyes, her throat, her heart, her whole soul to allow the birthing process to happen.

sheela na gig

Sila na Gig on a church in Kilpeck, Herefordshire

The only exception to this taboo, in the whole of Western art, that I know of, is the Síla na Gig, (pronounced Shee-la na gig). Found in the eaves of British and Irish churches, I first learned about them from Ina May Gaskin (check out her interview, here, where she discusses their function and purpose.) There she stands, vulva wide open and proud.

My greatest hope for women is that we be safe enough, feel safe enough, to be wide open and witnessed: lovingly held, tenderly treated, standing in our power and vulnerability.

I loved this poem by Brid Wildearth, which she posted recently and wanted to share it, and her artwork, with you all.

SHADOWS OF AN ANCIENT GODDESS

An ancient woman squats
above an old church door.
She holds her vulva open,
impossible to ignore.

Weird witch Síla na Gig,
powerful, daring and rude,
I wish I dared sit on a church wall
wicked and wanton and nude!

Eerie faerie Síla na Gig,
bathing your quim in the sun,
your holy hole outrageously obvious,
your mouth fixed in a mocking grin,

you might as well be shouting
to pilgrims rich and poor:
“I am your mother, your sister, your wife,
your daughter, your lover, your whore.”

Orgasmic dancing Síla na Gig,
are you just prehistoric pornography?
Or do you have something to say
to the twenty first century?

“I will not collude in your big cover up.
I will not clothe myself in your shame.
Uncensored and open and honest and proud,
I show the world who I am and why I came.”

Why do you sit on a church wall?
Why do you show us your cunt?
Why did the stonemason carve you?
And what exactly is it that you want?

“I was here before the church was
and I’ll be here long after it’s gone.
I honour the place of original magic
the place from which we all come

I open the gate between worlds
the doorway to life and to death
this gesture is just as important
as any gesture to pray or to bless

I am your ancestral goddess.
I am swollen and violated and raped.
This is the result of your violence.
I will not disappear without trace.

By Brid Wildearth

By Brid Wildearth

When you seek to disempower me,
you invade me against my will
you build churches over my temples and groves
and convince my children that I am evil.

Remember where you originate.
Remember your spiritual roots.
Remember that god is a woman as well.
Remember deep, radical truths.

Womanhood is as sacred

as any church or holy place.
We give birth, we give pleasure and we give love,
we give comfort and healing and peace.”

sheela na gig earthenware

 

wyldearth

Brid Wildearth blogs at www.moondrummer.blogspot.com, where this post first appeared. She says:

I identify as a witch in solidarity with the nine million wimmin accused of witchcraft during the burning times. I have been moon drumming for two years with wimmin all over the world. We channel moonlight to heal ourselves, our loved ones and the earth. I was drawn on to study Síla na Gigs, goddess figurines found on medieval churches who display their genitalia.I felt addicted to painting and sculpting them. I did not fully understand why. Women in pottery classes who saw me sculpting their open vulvas would giggle uncontrollably. I felt their discomfort and I allowed myself to be silenced yet again…. And later I noticed that displaying an open vulva is the exact opposite to sewing one up [as is done in female genital mutilation]. I invoke this ancient goddess to help me in my desire to help end this subjugation of women, within the context of world wide misogyny and rape. After years of copying ancient sculptures, my hands created my own original Síla na Gig.”